Today the shoreline of Lake Malawi is open, not forested the way it was before ancient humans started modifying the landscape.
Combining evidence from archaeology, geochronology and paleoenvironmental science, researchers identified how ancient humans by Lake Malawi were the first to substantially modify their environment.
This skull, found in France, was among the first fossils to be recognized as belonging to our own species.
DEA /G. Cigolini via Getty Images
Our biggest evolutionary advantages are an ability to walk on two legs and our big brains.
The research site at the Olduvai Gorge.
The research shows that 2 million years ago humans were not constrained technologically and already had the capacity to expand their geographic range.
A hominin track in Garden Route National Park, lightly outlined in chalk. The track is 24 centimetres long.
These ancient surfaces, which often preserve the tracks in remarkable detail, are now amenable to inspection and interpretation.
A: Border Cave’s 200,000 year old fossilised grass fragments. B: The profile section of desiccated grass bedding dating to around 43,000 years ago.
Both images copyright Lyn Wadley
Before 200,000 years ago, close to the origin of our species, people preferred the use of broad-leaved grasses to build their beds and resting areas using ash layers underneath.
Revil Mason remained passionate about archaeology throughout his life.
Mason tirelessly sought to convince officials of the need to recognise and celebrate the African past, and the role that African people played in the making of modern South African society.
There is not much information on artefacts used by Stone Age humans to make sound and music – but the first comprehensive survey is a good start.
The updated methods are providing a clearer picture of how Earth and its inhabitants evolved over the past 60,000 years - and thus, providing new insight into its future.
The bone arrowhead (insert) found at Klasies River main site has much to teach us.
Justin Bradfield and Sarah Wurz
The artefact comes from deposits dated to more than 60,000 years ago. It closely resembles thousands of bone arrowheads used by the indigenous San hunter-gatherers from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
The original Dikika child skull (left), a 3D model produced with synchrotron scanning (middle), and a model corrected for distortion during fossilisation (right).
Gunz et al. (2020) / Science Advances.
Our findings reveal the slowing down of brain development in our ape-like ancestors began more than three million years ago.
Reptile, avian and mammal tracks and Middle Stone Age artefacts on a large track bearing surface which has since been buried by a landslide.
Images modified from Helm, et al. 2020. South African Journal of Science, 116
While crocodylian fossil swim traces have been described from other continents, to the best of our knowledge the examples we describe are the first such reptilian swim traces from Africa.
Little Foot’s skull, with the arrow on the right-hand image indicating the specimen’s atlas.
R.J. Clarke/Author supplied
The findings suggest that this specimen could climb and move in trees. But it may also have been able to walk on the ground. This echoes previous studies.
An archaeological site in India sheds new light on how ancient humans dispersed from Africa across the world.
Neanderthal hunting grounds in southern Siberia — the Charysh River valley, with Chagyrskaya Cave in the centre of the photo.
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Neanderthals living in a cave in southern Siberia made distinctive stone tools that can be traced to their ancestral homeland in eastern Europe — an intercontinental journey of more than 3,000 km.
The site at Ngandong held the remains of the last known members of the ancient human species Homo erectus.
Our extinct, distant cousins still lived in Indonesia 110,000 years ago.
A scene from the Books of the Dead (based at the Egyptian Museum) shows the ibis-headed god Thoth recording the result of “the final judgement”.
Wasef et al./PLOS ONE
An estimated 1.75 million ibises were deposited at a single location in ancient Egypt. But the birds disappeared entirely from the region around 1850, and no one knows why.
The sounds our ancestors made are important because they teach us about spaces and behaviour and rituals of the time.
One of the Klasies River spinning discs and the replica built for the recording studio.
Kumbani et al (2019), Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Working with bone artefacts from archaeological sites in South Africa's southern Cape region, we've been able to show that some implements might have been used for sound production in the past.
Footprints at the second, more recently recorded site in Laetoli.
While the science is crucial, it is also important to know what sense the people who live in and around Laetoli make of these ancient footprints.
Callao Cave on Luzon Island in The Philippines, where the fossils of
Homo luzonensis were discovered.
Callao Cave Archaeology Project (Florent Détroit)
Reports say that a new species of ancient human has been identified in a cave in The Philippines. But only a few bone and teeth fossil fragments have been found, so far.